Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Buffalo Family Diet

Friends and family, here's where the Buffalo Family is right now! :-)

The kids: Gluten free, dairy free, corn free, sugarcane free, egg free for one, kiwi free for another. There are also some other issues unknown right now. Every time we try a lot of fruit, or processed food of any kind, the kids seem to have trouble, so we're still keeping a food journal to figure this out (okay, keeping a food journal again. I got lazy and stopped because I thought we were done. Whoops. I know better now). Making everything from scratch again, yee ha.


The hubby: Low cholesterol, low sugar diet. This seems so easy in comparison!

Me: Current diet - bison meat, quinoa, amaranth, avocado, dulce sea weed, sweet potato, salmon, tomatoes, sea salt, and we're checking on chickpeas. So far, they seem okay!

So for those who are doing the gluten free diet without eggs, dairy, and corn - right there with ya. Pain in the butt, eh? But for anyone who is just starting out with this? Hit in the face with it like we were and you're trying to keep your head above water?

It's not the end of the world. Lots of work and it feels like one is back in school, studying madly to try and figure out what to eat before the next meal. But truly - not the end of the world. It's just the end of an era, and that doesn't mean that the upcoming era is a bad thing, just different.

Really, really different. Sort of like living in a Monet painting and suddenly entering the land of Picasso. It'll take a while to get used to it, and it'll never be the same as it was, but it's still worth enjoying.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chicken Fried Buffalo Burger

You ever get a craving for a certain food? Like you'll just die if you don't have a Double Western Bacon green chile tomato cheeseburger, or your mouth is screaming for rocky road chunky swirly foamy chocolate ice cream?

I have always had one dish I crave when I'm hungry: a plain hamburger with a sesame seed bun and pork 'n' beans on the side. This isn't my favorite dish. In fact, it's not even in the top twenty. But when I'm hungry, I'll desperately desire this odd, simple food combination. Except this urge has been missing during all the months of Celiac Hunger, until today. Today, driving down the road back from Hernia Doc, I suddenly desperately wanted a burger and pork 'n' beans.

Obviously, not gonna happen.

But I've been so foody and bloggy, developing my super-recipe-checkin'-out persona, that it got me feeling like I could do something. And I did! And more surprisingly, it worked! It was awesome. I haven't eaten food like this in months and months and it was so yummy!

It was even bad for me! Oh Glory Days!

Chicken Fried Buffalo Burger - GF, CF, egg free, corn free

What you need:
Buffalo burgers - make your own with ground buffalo, or TenderBison makes some pre-made
Quinoa flour - I used Ancient Harvest's brand
salt or other dry seasonings
oil - I used avocado oil

What you do:
1. Pour a little of the oil in a frying pan, I filled it about 1/4 inch full, and turn it up to med-high heat.
2. Pour a little of the quinoa flour onto a plate and add whatever seasonings you want to it. Mix it around with your fingers or a fork.
3. If you are making your own buffalo patty, grab some ground buffalo meat, roll it into a ball, press it flat in your hands, and slap it back and forth between your hands for a while. Supposedly, this will help it stay together better. It seems to have worked for me, but I wouldn't swear that slapping is the actual reason.
4. Rinse the meat under water, just for a sec, and immediately dredge it in the quinoa flour. The water will help the flour stick a little better. Turn it over to coat the sides, roll it along the side to get the edges, and even scoop a little flour over it and pat lightly to make sure you get a good coating.
5. Now pop that puppy into the hot oil and fry yourself a burger! For my buffalo burgers, which were about 1/3 pound each, I crisped both sides on med-high heat, and then turned it down to med/med-low to finish cooking for a few minutes.

The quinoa coating crisped really nice, and there was none of that bitter aftertaste you sometimes get with this grain, thankfully. The meat was still pink in the middle this way. For the buffalo uninitiated, this is a good thing. Buffalo gets more tough than beef when it loses the pinkness, so having a little red left is preferable, taste-wise. Health-wise, you'll have to make your own decision, eh?

1. I imagine this coating would taste just fine for beef and fish as well, possibly chicken. Perhaps with the lighter flavor of chicken, however, there could be some hint of quinoa flavor that comes through.

2. I've heard of people using potato starch or white rice flour for their batters when they make fried chicken and the like. They seem to crisp up fairly well, I understand.

3. I'm sure there could be some fun stuff mixed into the burger to add a little health, here, too. Grated veggies, mashed beans, cooked grains, cheese (you lucky dairy eaters, you), mushrooms?

But wait, there's more!

Batterless Fried Green Tomatoes

We grew tomatoes this year; the only thing I've successfully grown in recent memory. So today, I picked a few that were just on the yellow side of green, and fried them in the oil after the buffalo was done: batterless fried green tomatoes. Hot and tangy and a little greasy, which was just wonderful today!

What you need:
unripe tomatoes - mine were just showing signs of ripening and that was just right
hot oil - probably had a nicer flavor since we used the oil left from the buffalo

What you do:
1. Slice the tomatoes into rounds about 1/4-1/2 inches thick.
2. Pop them into the hot oil and fry them up, turning periodically, until they look soft and yummy.
3. Eat while still hot.

Honestly, this was such decadence for me! I've been beaming all night. Even though this amount of oil was so much for me that it ended up like a lump in my stomach, I DON'T CARE. I refuse to let that spoil my super-duper cooking moment.

My good thought for the day: I just ate some real, actual junky food. Just...awesome.

Information Links

Food Allergy Folks, you might like these:
Alcohol Allergies and Intolerances - gluten, sulfite, and alcohol allergies
Allergic Living - information, magazine, and forum for allergy sufferers
Anaphylaxis Network - information, research, education
Cooking Allergy Free - forum and recipe support for those with multiple food allergies
Corn Allergy Website - information for corn allergy sufferers
Fructmal - Information for those with (dietary) Fructose Malabsorption

Gluten Free Folks, you might like these:
American Celiac Disease Alliance
Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Disease Center at Columbia
Celiac Sprue Association
Gluten Free Drugs - An up to date list of known gluten free medicine
Gluten Intolerance Group - Has a supportive forum for celiacs who are hyper, hyper sensitive to gluten.
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness - Celiac Advocacy

Monday, June 28, 2010

Recipe List

Buffalo-to-go Featured Recipes *

*A warning about the recipes. I will try my best to be accurate about whether a recipe is allergen free, but I am unable to guarantee that any recipe here will not have a product or ingredient that contains a particular allergen, or that it is allergen free for everyone's level of sensitivity. So sorry!

As many of us who have been dealing with allergens know, when it comes to allergies, nothing is 100% certain. Please, be safe and double check ingredients and products for yourself to make sure you have the most up to date information. Companies are constantly changing their processing, their suppliers, their machines, and their recipes. On top of that, there can always be contamination issues that I am unaware of. And if anyone knows of a contamination issue for one of my recipes that I have listed as allergen free, please let me know so I can correct it!

And now, on to the recipes!!

Beverages -

Mint water
Smoothie, dairy free, soy free

Breads -

Corn Tortillas, GF

Breakfast -
Millet Porridge, GF, corn free

Condiments -
Coarse Ground Mustard, GF, Corn free (Recipe off-site)

Desserts -
Alegría (popped amaranth bar), GF, corn free (recipe off-site)
Chocolate chip cookies by Glutenfree Girl, GF (Recipe off-site)

Main Dishes-
Chicken Fried Buffalo Burgers, GFCF, egg free, corn free
Corn Tortilla Meal Ideas, GF
Rice balls, GF
Roast Beef, GF (Recipe off-site)
Simple Meatloaf, tomato free, corn free, egg free
Simple Soup, adaptable for multiple-allergy sufferers
Stir Fried Baby Bokchoy, GF, soy free option

Side Dishes -
Batterless Fried Green Tomatoes, GF

Snacks -

Popped Amaranth, GF, CF, corn free
Puffed Millet Snack, GF, peanut free, corn free
Rice Ball, GF

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Dreams Die Hard

I think it's ironic - or possibly just a little cracked - that at the point in time when I can eat less than 10 ingredients, I am more interested in cooking than I've ever been in my life. Before this, if I watched a cooking show, I would 'mmm' and 'ahhh' and 'oh, that looks good.' But it was all with the knowledge that there was no way in the world that the dish was going to be made in my kitchen.

It was going to take work, and practice, and skills I didn't have. Not to mention ingredients it would take me a couple hours to shop around and collect.

I don't feel that way anymore. ALL our food takes work now, and practice, and it doesn't matter what skills I don't have. If I want my family to eat, I'd better suck it up and start cooking. It'd be nice if I could come up with something palatable, but nutritious will do as I work my way there. And as for ingredients?

Oh man, do I have ingredients now. I have ingredients out the yin-yang. Yacon syrup, powdered maple, sorghum flour, potato starch, chia seeds, Amchur powder, veggies and fruits and meats and spices. If we can eat it, I likely have it. Or know where to get it, now.

So watching chefs cooking on TV, or reading recipes on gluten free blogs (there are so many good ones, it's hard to choose from!), I am utterly absorbed. I think about what we could make, what would taste good, what would be eaten by the kids. It's actually rather exciting, in a kind of desperate-for-good-food sort of way. I feel this jittery energy to actually cook, to see the kids and my hubby enjoy the food with smiles instead of tentative bites to make sure it's actually edible. I like it. Weird, but true. I'm enjoying this part of things, if not so much when it's the end of the day and I'm tired. And the dishes are left over. Still, more than I would have thought.

But lately, I've had to face a certain reality of our diet that's been, frankly, a bit sad. Baking is going to be the hardest dang thing EVER for our family. I keep reading how easy it is, once you get used to the new ingredients and play with them a bit.

Gluten Free Girl (another Shauna, curiously enough) has some amazing GF recipes for baked goods, and I read over them and drool. Especially her chocolate chip cookies. These look TO DIE FOR. Seriously, you should check them out if you can. They sound amazing. Her recipes and others from so many of the guys and gals who have been baking this way for years sound simply wonderful. And not too difficult, if you're willing to work a little for it. I get so excited when I see one of these and always think to myself that maybe we can do it, with a little substitution.

And then I read the recipes and my hopes just crash and burn. We may, someday, be able to figure it out. But right now, the substitutions are going to be so crazy's going to be a long, long while before I get even close, and I don't know if it'll ever happen. I hate that this dream keeps getting shot down just when it starts to stand up and take shape.

Take the above cookies, for example. Seriously, they look sooooo good. I start reading through the list of ingredients, and the rest of the recipe goes something like this:

Okay, flours and starches we can have. Awesome! We can TOTALLY make this cookie!

Baking powder? No, that's still good. I've got that covered by now. We've chucked our cornstarch baking powder and replaced it with one that has potato starch, instead. Which...I can't use, considering I react to BOTH, but maybe cream of tartar and baking soda might work for me someday. And this is just for the family right now anyway, so...we can still do this. This is doable.

Butter. Well, this one is tougher. We're a no dairy family again right now, so that's out. And no dairy substitutes that I've found are free from corn. Maybe a vegan shortening made from palm oil? Is that contaminated with anything bad for us? Coconut oil? Something? Okay, trickier, but I think we can still do this.

Sugar. Avoiding that one as well, argh. But hey, we could use agave syrup, as soon as I can figure out how to substitute it and see how it works. Or honey, as long as we make sure we don't get one that's corn syrup contaminated. Or...well, we could substitute that, right? Yes, yes, I can still see this cookie in my head. We will find a way!

Eggs. Crud, always with the eggs. No way, no how, and substitution A has gluten, substitution B has corn...we still haven't found anything our family can use for eggs except pureed fruit or maybe mashed tofu, and frankly, that hasn't turned out so well, to date. The recipe is looking more and more like a distant dream. But still, I persevere, because I WANT THAT DARN COOKIE! Really. Did you look at it? It was awesome looking!

Vanilla extract. No problem. No, really, I can make this. Take a pretty tasteless alcohol that isn't derived from corn or gluten, add vanilla bean, let sit for a few weeks, and there you go, vanilla extract (a lot of people use potato vodka, I understand. Or brandy. Or methods like this.). It'll take some planning, but the vanilla still won't do me in!

Dagoba chocodrops - Uh, this one might be harder. The company doesn't list the chocolate drops on their website anymore, but still, they make chocolate, right? It could be chopped up, but researching the ingredients will, again, be a bit of a challenge. Googling the ingredients was a total fail. I'll be going to the store, jotting down ingredients, and calling the company with a pinch of hope that I can figure out if it's safe for us. Or I can buy cacao nibs and figure out a way to make a dairy free chocolate from scratch. I am determined that this will work, darn it!


Still, I have gotten to the end of the list. It is daunting, and frustrating, but maybe, just maybe, I can do this. And then I go back over the ingredients and realize I've missed one. The crucial one. The one that always gets us becuase it's odd and strange and finding a substitution has been a pain in the petutie: Xanthan gum.

Yes, it's supposed to be so processed that there's no corn left in it. But as we've discovered, my body doesn't read labels. The tests for corn detect 50ppm or more. My body seems to react to less than that, and we're a bit worried that the kids do too, when we start having many foods with these trace amounts. So no Xanthan gum for us. I have NO IDEA what to substitute for this. I had to hunt it down, and the answers are often things we can't have, or I really need to research to see what it can do, and I haven't managed it once, yet.

Although it's surprising how many there are: Chia seed Flour (, Guar Gum, Gum Arabic, Locust Bean Gum (carob gum), Gum Tragacanth, Carrageenan. However, many of these pose allergy issues. Some have potential corn contamination, carob is a legume, some of the gums are potential allergens. It's going to take a lot of research to make sure they are safe.

Although as a novice chef, I wonder about other thickeners and gummy-type substances, too, and what use they'd be. Pectin? Gelatin? Various starches? Kudzu root? I have no idea what the gluten free status and allergen status of these are, most of the time. Pectin tends to have corn contamination issues. Gelatin is bad for us unless they can tell us what animal it came from, since we have trouble with some of them. The starches are sometimes contaminated. The kudzu root...well, I have no idea, even though I actually have some of this stuff, just never used it!

It is at this moment that my dream of baking typically fades, crushed under the weight of research and the hours of future experimentation needed, all just to get something that may or may not be edible in the end. I try to keep up hope - seriously, I do try - but considering how much of a challenge it is just to make the simplest dish, where every broth is made from scratch? The extra challenges of baking right now seem far, far out of reach.

Someday, I am going to try it, when we have recipes that I can make blindfolded and I have quarts and quarts of homemade sauces to thaw out and use, whenever I wish. For now, though, I think that I will take all thoughts of baking and put them in a small jar with a heart on it, way in the back shelf, and think of them fondly every once in a while. Perhaps try a homemade pancake or two, maybe even a biscuit.

But the cookies...the reality is going to be a while in coming, even if the Dream lives on, every time I see another recipe that we 'might' be able to use.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Update Time!

So, ten month's since this all started, how are we doing?

The kids, we're slowly figuring out. Both the midgets have to avoid gluten completely. Both seem to have trouble with dairy or corn, although we're still working on whether this needs total avoidance, or if we can have limited amounts. My son needs to avoid eggs like the plague, and my daughter...well, we're still working on it. She loves fruit like an obsessed fangirl loves Naruto and will eat every piece of fruit in the house down to the seeds if she can do it. Then she'll spend the following few days miserable, crying for hours, and unable to fall asleep until after midnight every night.

So far, I'm wondering if it's fructose, pesticides, or there are actually certain fruits that are worse for her. It's gonna take while to figure that out. We're getting there, though. The kids' behavior is so much better than it was a few months ago that it's stunning. The work involved in this is totally worth it.

My diet is still pretty limited, but I've been able to add some vitamins, at least! Buffalo, tomatoes, avocado, sweet potato, amaranth, quinoa, and dulce sea weed. And sea salt. Lost the carrots and almonds a while back, but got tomatoes. Not a bad food to add. Got some calcium powder, iodine drops, and cod liver oil for extra vitamins.

And may I add, all the horrible bad jokes about forcing children to take cod liver oil? All. True. Wow. That may be the nastiest substance ever invented for actual human consumption. I truly wonder who came up with the idea of eating this. The Marquis de Sade? Seriously. Must have been some seriously desperate folk to even consider this as edible. Rather like me right now, eh?

But inhalation reactions are down and I've been able to actually go into people's houses without being the allergic masked woman, woo hoo! Very exciting. Can't do it everywhere yet, but it's a start, and it feels like another beginning after allergy season.

Bri is trying to cope with his new diet, too - low cholesterol, low sugar. That's been a bit tougher away from home, it seems, but next week I'm hoping we can really get started on some new recipes that are tasty, and fast, and easy to make.

Yeah, yeah, don't pop my bubble, eh? A pathetic cook can dream, right? It can happen! The kids'll help. They like to eat better!

So the next couple weeks, hopefully we'll be having some new recipes we'll try out and see how they go! Hope to share them with my fellow food sensitive folk!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Celebrating 10 months of Gluten Free Living

I just realized that in about 2 months, I will have made it an entire year without intentionally eating gluten. 10 months now, no gluten cheating (let's just skip the part about cheating on sugarcane and dairy, shall we?). For anyone who has been on any sort of diet, for allergies, celiac disease, high-cholesterol, or even simple weight loss...well, you know what an accomplishment it is to stick to a diet this long!

I'm sitting here in bed, recovering from a hernia surgery, and possibly reacting to my pain pills - these may be the last ones I can take. So let me tell you, it's a great moment to realize I've made it this far. I can hardly believe it.

I'm so happy I have managed it. Not everything is figured out yet, obviously. I still have some physical stuff that I'm working on, but really? This is something I feel like I can point to and be proud of. I've done something great for me, my body, and set a great example for my kids, too.

Gluten free for 10 months. Rock on, Celiac buddies.

And for fellow Celiacs who are just starting out on your gluten free route? This diet makes such a difference, honestly. For me, it was like there was a dark cloth covering me that I didn't even know was there, and going gluten free was someone finally yanking it off. Everything is clearer. Not always easier, certainly, but more real.

Last year at this time, I was tired all the time, depressed most of the time, suffering from carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, joint and muscles pains, and more. My daughter and son were tired all the time with huge emotional outbursts constantly. My brother was starting to feel sick all day long.

Now myself, my children, and my brother are all gluten free. The aches and pains and exhaustion are gone, the carpal tunnel and plantar fasciitis are gone. The emotional outbursts are fading. Heck, 60 pounds are gone, too!

It's been a very difficult road, with all the food allergies and issues we've been discovering, and a few other things that seem to have snuck in, but all in all.

It's a good day to be alive and gluten free.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food Links

A word of warning: For those new to gluten free living, or the world of food allergies, please be advised that the phrase 'gluten free' or 'corn free' or 'anything free' usually means 'tested less than X parts per million,' with X being the legal limit for 'Free of this food,' or X being 'the best we can scientifically test for at the moment.' This is seldom zero parts per million. Gluten Free is typically somewhere between 10-20 ppm. Corn Free, I've heard, is about 50ppm.

Unfortunately, some of us seem to react to less than the legal limit, or to less than the tests can detect, so it pays to be aware of what substances are derived from or processed with, just in case you turn out to be extra-sensitive. In today's world of legal jargon and industrial food processing, we need to be educated so we can keep ourselves and our families safe. :-)

GF - gluten free
CF - casein free

Gluten Free Cooking Folks, you might like these:
101cookbooks - uses whole-food ingredients, only some are GF
Affairs of Living - uses whole-food ingredients, multiple allergies
Book of Yum - vegetarian and GF
Celiac Chicks - hip and GF
Celiac Family - family friendly GF
Celiacs in the House - GF teens, recipes, and product reviews
Celiac Princess - GF recipes and info.
Chaya's Comfy Cook blog - lots of GF recipes, meatless Mondays
The Crispy Cook - GF and vegetarian
The Cook and the Critic - nice GF recipes, use some pre-made products
Dianasaurus Dishes - frugal, in-season recipes, only some are GF
Don't Need No Stinkin' Wheat - budget friendly, college-friendly, easy GF recipes
The GFCF Experience - GFCF recipes, use some pre-made products
GFCF Mommy - kid friendly GFCF recipes, often use pre-made products
Ginger Lemon Girl - frugal, southern, gluten free girl
Gluten A Go Go - simple, adaptable GF recipes
Gluten-Free Bay - GF and kosher
Gluten Free Cooking School - recipes and tips for gluten free cooking
Gluten Free for Good - nutritionist's healthy GF recipes
Gluten Free Girl and Chef - positive attitude and good lookin', good tastin', healthy GF food
Gluten Free Gobsmacked - toddler friendly GF recipes
Gluten Free Goddess - GF food with a little extra veggie
Gluten Free Goodness - GF, CF, egg free, corn free, soy free, many vegan & sugar free options
The Gluten Free Hippie - Name says it all. Many raw GF recipes
Gluten Free in Arizona - GF recipes and Southwestern links
Gluten Free Sox Fan - GF recipes and product reviews
The Gluti Girls - normal GF food that's not too hard to make
The Good Eatah - GFCF food
Hey, That Tastes Good! - tasty GF food, often uses pre-made products
Hold the Gluten - GF product reviews, podcast
I am Gluten Free - GF, dairy free recipes, cookbook reviews
Jen's Gluten Free - GF recipes, information, and news
Life, Gluten Free - kid friendly GF recipes
Simply Gluten Free - simple to make GF food that tastes good
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free - sugarcane free and GF recipes
The Spunky Coconut - GF, CF, sugar free, many raw recipes
Strawberries are Gluten Free - kid friendly GF recipes
The WHOLE Gang - GF, dairy free, organic

Food Allergy Folks, you might like these:
Affairs of Living - uses whole-food ingredients, multiple allergies
Book of Yum - vegetarian and GF recipes
Cooking Allergy Free - forum and recipe support for those with multiple food allergies
Dairy Free Living - dairy free recipes, and a nice calcium table for many foods
Fructmal - Info. and recipes for those with (dietary) Fructose Malabsorption
The GFCF Experience - GFCF recipes, use some pre-made products
GFCF Mommy - kid friendly GFCF recipes, often pre-made sauces and such used
Gluten-Free Bay - GF and kosher recipes
Gluten Free Goodness - GF, CF, egg free, corn free, soy free, many vegan and sugar free options
Go Dairy Free - Dairy free recipes, lifestyle, and hidden ingredients info.
The Good Eatah - GFCF food
- Peanut and tree nut free recipes, information, forums
Please Don't Pass the Nuts - News and tips for those living with food allergies
The Spunky Coconut - GF, CF, sugar free, many raw recipes
The WHOLE Gang - GF, dairy free, organic
Wine, Not! - Sulfite free recipes

Food Allergy
Folks shopping on-line, you might like these:
Ancient Harvest - Quinoa products
EnjoyLife Foods - pre-made foods for multiple-allergy sufferers
Gilbert's Gourmet Goodies - Cookies and cookie dough that are GF, CF, peanut and tree nut free, corn free, soy free*, transfat and preservative free, and low in sodium. *Chocolate chips contain soy lecithin.
The Gluten Free Mall - lots of GF food products!
No 'Mato - Traditional tomato-filled sauces made tomato free
Peanut Store - peanut and tree nut free chocolates
St. Claires - CANDY! Organic, vegetarian, GF, CF, soy free, egg free, fish and shellfish free, corn free, tree nut and peanut free candies. I've only seen hard candies, no chocolates.
Vanilla Spoons - Gluten Free Gift Baskets
Vermont Nut Free Chocolate Company - chocolates and granola bars, nut free

Good Doctors

I've complained about my frustrations with doctors before, so I feel it's only fair to be just as loud in my happiness when something goes very, very right.

Last week, I was sent to a University Cancer Center to see a specialist about a hernia. My only experience with cancer before this was with my grandmother, when she was so far gone that the only thing we were able to do was hospice. The cancer center came as a surprise. Not that I had any preconceived notions; I hadn't really thought of what a cancer center would be like in any sense other than 'please, let me not have cancer.' But once I was there, the entire experience was, well, the only word I can think of is 'lovely.'

The first thing I noticed were the smiles. The receptionist smiled, the cashier smiled, the doctors and nurses who passed by smiled, and each nurse, intern, phlebotomist, radiologist, and medical assistant who I interacted with smiled. Each and every one. We chatted, we talked, and the entire experience was one of caring and a real enjoyment of people.

I suppose I could say that some of them were likely smiling simply because it was their job, but if so, they did a superb job. I felt calm, comfortable, and as though I was in a caring and safe environment. Every person I asked a question of paused, listened until I finished speaking, and then answered. No interruptions, no body language indicating 'this is taking too long, hurry it up.'

It was wonderful.

I had surgery for the hernia just yesterday, and once again, it was a wonderful experience, as surgeries go. At first, I was very nervous. I've been reacting to so many things that I wasn't certain how things would do during the surgery. When I was first referred over, even my regular doc mentioned that he thought my potential reactions were of concern. It's not as though I'm assuming I will have some sort of severe allergic reaction during surgery, but the thought definitely hovered in the back of my mind.

The last time I was in an ER, due to throat swelling, the nurses didn't want to note down any allergies that weren't specifically medicines, never mind that many of the substances on my allergy list are IN medication. They certainly didn't want to hear about my reacting to substances that don't even test as allergies. I felt the need to check everything they wanted to give me, because they had no idea what was safe for me, and honestly didn't seem to give a damn.

This time was the totally opposite experience. The nurses and doctors listened, and when I described what had been happening, they all took notes, asked questions to find out exactly what had been happening, and I felt absolutely that if anything happened during the surgery, it was not going to be due to negligence on their part. Again, a very, very comforting experience.

So here's a thank you to all the hospital staff I've met in the last week. You were wonderful, guys.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Good foods for kids not so good if they have pesticides

A new study on pesticides suggests that fruits and veggies where organophosphates were used as pesticides can cause ADHD symptoms. Organic or pesticide-free produce is more likely to be free of these chemicals (they are supposed to be, we just may not be able to trust the label - the commenter mentioned this as a potential issue).

Another potential bad guy is food dyes. Most of us have heard that some kids may react to this, and the rebuttal that no, it doesn't do anything to kids at all. And a few of us may know parents who swear their kids are affected by dyes. What I didn't know was that some of the dyes still in use in the U.S. are no longer allowed in the UK. Our experts and theirs disagree on how good the studies are. (

Of course, our FDA is the one that said genetically modified food was so similar to regular food that it didn't need any testing or regulation before it was put on the market, which makes me a bit short on trust for their freedom from lobby influence.

These two do make me wonder if these are two things I've been missing in our hunt for 'what makes our kids have their crazy times.' So far, every time we introduce foods that we haven't made from scratch, things are not good. My children slowly morph from slightly spazzy, quirky kids to some zombie caricature that is either going to shuffle through the day or attack those around them.

It's been hard to pin down - I don't like the 'reacting to everything' label. But I know that some of our fruits and veggies haven't been organic, because I'm short an arm and a leg that I would need just to pay for them. And often, the products we buy, if we buy any pre-made, have a dye in them. Not always, but they can, and if they do, I wonder if that's a part of the problem.

Better go back over the food log...if I was still keeping it and not being lazy and tallying things in my head. Crap. Back to the food log we go.

Mustard and our using our minds

It's been a bit too long since I last blogged!

The mustard has worked well in the few recipes we've made, or rather, it's been a good flavor in the recipes we've made. The recipes themselves, I understand, did not go over so well. We tried a chicken salad with cilantro dressing, for example, but again, marinated the food too long (that seems to be a habit for me. I'm a marinade rebel or something, I suppose). In the end, the chicken picked up too much vinegar from the marinade and ended up far too sour.

However, the kids really liked the little mustard kick to it, so I think that counts as a condiment well done. It's not as useful as I had hoped, however, because of the chunky style. We have more recipes that require smooth mustard than whole grain, so that'll be the next thing we try.

But in between trying, I have been taking a break to have a little snit over how willing we can be to believe something we want to be true.

The other day, I received an email from a gal in a group I belong to, one of those that forwards along a letter, supposedly by a good source. In this case, it was a letter from Johns Hopkins, an excerpt from a pamphlet they send out to patients, supposedly. Part of the letter discusses how we should stop eating meat to avoid cancer.

My face looked something like this after reading that: 0.o

The advice is all over the place, from what prevents cancer to what can be done to treat it - it all involved eating and lifestyle changes, however. The lifestyle changes very closely resembled the Alkaline Diet that's popular right now. Veggies and raw foods were good - hey, most of us agree. Meat was bad - not so much agreement there, although moderation tends to be a good thing. Attitude makes a difference. Well, yeah, but I'm surprised Johns Hopkins would say something about it and...

Surgery and chemo are bad.

Again: 0.o

Now, I know chemo sucks to have, and doesn't always work. And surgery can have it's problems too, but this seemed so far off the mark from everything I've heard in the medical field that it started ringing alarm bells. And then came the kicker: products were mentioned by name.

Johns Hopkins, recommending that we take Bragg's aminos to prevent cancer? No, no, and no again. Ain't gonna happen. I cannot believe that a medical institution like this would actually tell patients to use a particular food product. They just don't DO that.

Turns out, that was a good call, as this is a completely fabricated letter. In fact, Johns Hopkins was so irritated by the letter itself, they issued a rebuttal that refuted or corrected every point. And as I was reading over the letter myself, I had to think about how many people have been forwarding this along - for three years now! - and believe it. I'm sure I've done it myself with other emails: medical, political, philosophical.

Why do we do this? Do we simply want something to be true so badly that we fail to use our critical thinking to look it over? Do we trust the source and assume that they must have reviewed it, so we can believe it whole cloth?

I suppose I find it disturbing these days because with the internet, where anyone in the world can put something out and say whatever they want about it and its sources, we need our critical thinking to kick in more often, not less. As more and more of us are taking our health into our own hands - some of us from sheer necessity - we don't want to screw ourselves up because we want something to be true so badly that we refuse to think about it clearly.

Because of how much difficulty I've been having lately, I've had many, many people offer up different methods, diets, and solutions that I should try. I haven't tried a single one, to date, because so far, they don't hold up once I check them out, or I'm not confident enough I could find one that would help instead of harm me.

The Alkaline Diet - One of the biggest proponents for the Alkaline Diet lied about his credentials and is being scrutinized by the National Council Against Health Fraud. There's been no reliable studies that the foods recommended result in alkaline or acidic conditions within the body. At all.

NAET - The story of the founder of NAET, Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad, is full of information that cannot be true and tests done on the process show it has no better results than random guessing. One of my favorite claims is that Dr. Nambudripad had an allergy to vitamin C - which doesn't exist, I'm sorry, but no - and so had to live off of Broccoli and rice for year...a diet that is really high in vitamin C. Now, I believe this person had major food problems - how could I not, with my history? - but the entire theory behind the NAET diet is badly flawed.

Homeopathic remedies - I like the idea of using less processed medicines to help heal, in part because I'm less likely (one would hope) to get allergens I can't have, like corn and gluten. However, there's a few problems.

1. The herbal industry in the United States is not known for its regulation, and that means that they can put nearly whatever they want in their bottles and sell it until they get caught. Many are good companies, of course, but you're still going to get the bad egg here and there. If you want to see if an herbal supplement or remedy you want to use is good, there is an independent website that tests foods and herbs ( Europe regulates its herbals for content, so if you can order from them, you have a better chance of getting what it claims). Another good one to check has been herbalwatch, which reports 'bad' companies for known fraud, harm, etc... But so far, it's been more trouble than its worth to hunt down what I might use.

2. The second problem is accuracy of information. There just aren't enough studies done on herbal remedies. I find that a shame, as some of these suckers have been around for hundreds of years, and really do seem to work, but without a very, very reliable herbalist who you know is studying this, and trying to be as accurate and up to date as possible, it's a bit of a crapshoot to figure out what is really a remedy, and what's a load of hooey, as this article discusses briefly. I always think of this old russian remedy I came across while studying folk medicine. It was a cure for what we now call TB, using cockroaches and piss as two of the ingredients. Blech, right? Only it turns out, this particular russian cockroach actually contains a chemical that is now used in some modern cures for TB. The piss seemed to help break it down to a usable form.

This sort of thing tells me that finding the answer as to what really works is going to be a very long process. Maybe some day I'll find someone who I feel I can trust fully with one of these alternative remedies, but until then, I'll have to keep plugging away!